The 74th edition of the Vuelta a España gets under way with a short and absolutely pan flat team time trial based on the Costa Blanca resort of Torrevieja, which the town’s mayor Eduardo Dolón, has described as one of the biggest and most important events in its history thanks to the global audience that will be watching the race.
Extending to just 13.4 kilometres, the TTT starts on the edge of Las Salinas, the salt-making lagoons that initially gave Torrevieja its notoriety in the early 19th century, when salt production began. The course initially runs through the centre of the coastal town, following very straight and wide avenues to the halfway point, where it first reaches the sea front. The second half of the course tracks south, passing a series of little bays that are the focus of the tourism trade that is now Torrevieja’s major industry. This second half weaves a little more than the first, but this opening test is not very technical and should, therefore, see the best team’s covering the course in around 14 minutes.
Following Jumbo-Visma’s hugely impressive success in the equivalent test at the Tour de France less than two months ago and given the strength of its Vuelta line-up, the Dutch team will start as favourites for a victory that would likely put either Primoz Roglic or Steven Kruiswijk in the leader’s red jersey. Their principal rivals appear to be Ineos and Deceuninck-Quick Step, who were second and third respectively that day in Brussels, and Astana, who are another team with very strong all-round line-up. What is more certain is that the gaps between the leading squads shouldn’t be very significant on a course of this length and will soon become insignificant once this mountains-heavy race reaches its real battleground.
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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